Filmmakers Are Pissed About Warner Bros.’ HBO Max Decision

Photo Credit: Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Kodak

Warner Bros. will release its 2021 titles exclusively on HBO Max.

Last week, Warner Bros. sent shockwaves throughout the entertainment industry by announcing they’ll release their 2021 titles exclusively to HBO Max for a month before they hit theaters. In the wake of the news, filmmakers, talent agents, and more are expressing their disdain for the decision.

Christopher Nolan, who released Tenet in theaters despite the pandemic, spoke out about the move on Tuesday. He’s decidedly opposed to the deal, which many industry members believe was a grave mistake.

“Some of our industry’s biggest filmmakers and most important movie stars went to bed the night before thinking they were working for the greatest movie studio and woke up to find out they were working for the worst streaming service,” Nolan told The Hollywood Reporter.

“Warner Bros. had an incredible machine for getting a filmmaker’s work out everywhere,” Nolan continued. “Both in theaters and in the home, and they are dismantling it as we speak. They don’t understand what they’re losing. Their decision makes no economic sense, and even the most casual Wall Street investor can see the difference between disruption and dysfunction.”

According to the New York Times, WarnerMedia kept talent agencies in the dark until about 90 minutes before the official announcement. This led to confusion, as most actors and their agents now have to negotiate compensation without traditional releases. In the traditional model, there are two checks: one guaranteed upfront check and a percentage of ticket sales after studios recoup expenses. If the film flops, the second payday never comes. With no ticket sales to gauge, deals with streaming services become more complicated.

In the case of “Wonder Woman 1984,” star Gal Gadot and director Patty Jenkins agreed to a deal giving them both over $10 million each.

In addition to “Wonder Woman 1984,” Warner Bros. is set to release “Dune” and the fourth chapter of “The Matrix” in 2021. The big-budget films aren’t scheduled to hit theaters until the fourth quarter.

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